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Ecological Focus - Planning Rule Connections 2012

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Ecological Focus - Planning Rule Connections 2012

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1. Terrestrial Ecosystems, Aquatic Ecosystems, and Watersheds

Mountain Peaks with Snow

Ecosystems are spatially explicit, relatively homogeneous units of the Earth that include all interacting organisms and elements of the abiotic environment within their boundaries. They should be described in terms of their composition, structure, function, and connectivity. These publications and tools include valuable information for terrestrial ecosystems, aquatic ecosystems, and watersheds. They can be used as a starting point in planning assessment, and should be supplemented by information specific to the individual planning unit.

Resources

The Forest Inventory and Analysis Database: Database description and users manual version 4.0 for Phase 2.

Applicability: In-depth users manual for FIA data. It does a great job of making the reader aware of what type of data can be generated from FIA/FIDO/eVALIDATOR, as well as some detailed instructions on how to generate specific stand-level estimates.

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Authors: Woudenberg, Sharon W.; Conkling, Barbara L.; O'Connell, Barbara M.; LaPoint, Elizabeth B.; Turner, Jeffery A.; Waddell, Karen L. RMRS-GTR-245 - 2010

Abstract: This document is based on previous documentation of the nationally standardized Forest Inventory and Analysis database (Hansen and others 1992; Woudenberg and Farrenkopf 1995; Miles and others 2001). Documentation of the structure of the Forest Inventory and Analysis database (FIADB) for Phase 2 data, as well as codes and definitions, is provided. Examples for producing population level estimates are also presented. This database provides a consistent framework for storing forest inventory data across all ownerships for the entire United States. These data are available to the public.

Scope and scale: Variable depending on the FIA output.

Internet Address: http://www.fs.fed.us/rm/pubs/rmrs_gtr245.html

Forest Inventory and Analysis

Applicability: Through FIDO, the FIA Data Mart, and eValidator, users can generate extensive information regarding vegetation type, species, invasive species, etc. This information can then be synthesized into the assessment framework of composition, structure, function, and connectivity. Information updated annually.

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Description: The Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) Program of the U.S. Forest Service provides the information needed to assess America's forests.

As the Nation's continuous forest census, our program projects how forests are likely to appear 10 to 50 years from now. This enables us to evaluate whether current forest management practices are sustainable in the long run and to assess whether current policies will allow the next generation to enjoy America's forests as we do today.

FIA reports on status and trends in forest area and location; in the species, size, and health of trees; in total tree growth, mortality, and removals by harvest; in wood production and utilization rates by various products; and in forest land ownership.

Scope and Scale: Variable depending on the FIA output.

Internet Address: http://www.fia.fs.fed.us/tools-data/default.asp

Field Sampled Vegetation

Applicability: A Natural Resource Manager tool. It also includes a spatial version that is currently being developed. Accessing the data requires eAuthentication. Each forest should have a "primary resource steward" who is familiar with this product and what it can generate. You can work with your local Forest Service partner to view this resource.

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Authors: FSVeg

Description: Field Sampled Vegetation (FSVeg) stores data about trees, fuels, down woody material, surface cover, and understory vegetation. FSVeg supports the business of common stand exam, fuels data collection, permanent grid inventories, and other vegetation inventory collection processes.

Scope and scale: Stand-level and up.

Internet Address: http://www.fs.fed.us/nrm/fsveg/index.shtml

National Inventory and Monitoring Applications Center

Applicability: A clearinghouse for forest-level reports and data, maintained by the Northern Research Station. Includes reports on the forests of different states as well as climate and carbon information. NIMAC only includes data on certain states in Regions 1 and 2.

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Authors: NIMAC

Description: The National Inventory and Monitoring Applications Center (NIMAC) is a program with national scope, based at the headquarters office of the US Forest Service’s Northern Research Station in Newtown Square, Pennsylvania. We originated from within the Northern Forest Inventory and Analysis Program (FIA) in 2006, and are comprised of staff with expertise in biometry, statistics, geospatial technology, computer programming, databases, forestry field methods, and forestry data analysis – covering much of the range of FIA itself.

Scope and Scale: Typically state-wide.

Internet Address: http://www.nrs.fs.fed.us/nimac/

Natural Resource Manager

Applicability: Relevant NRM applications include: Air, aquatic surveys, FSVeg, FSVeg spatial, Inventory and mapping, Rangeland inventory and monitoring, timber, TESP/IS (threatened, endangered, and sensitive plants/invasive species), watershed classification and assessment tracking tool (WCATT), watershed improvement tracking (WIT), water rights and uses (WRU), and wildlife. You can work with your local Forest Service partner to view this resource.

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Description: Natural Resource Manager (NRM) is a national Forest Service organization that is responsible for coordinating software development activities for four application groups whose data are accessible through the NRM platform or the Enterprise Data Center (EDC):

  • Forest Service Activity Tracking System (FACTS)
  • Infra
  • Natural Resource Information System (NRIS)
  • Timber Information Manager (TIM)

These applications often intersect in how they collect and share data and in how they develop software and use technology. NRM finds ways to manage and grow these applications efficiently, and has already begun to standardize the processes used to develop an integrated program of work. NRM also will be looking for effective ways to use resources to reduce duplication of effort and to maximize technology investments.

Scope and scale: Variable depending on report generated.

Internet Address: http://www.fs.fed.us/nrm/

Spatial Patterns of Land Cover in the United States: A Technical Document Supporting the Forest Service 2010 RPA Assessment

Applicability: Useful for looking at connectivity of ecosystems. It can also be helpful for assessment area 14.

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Author: Kurt H. Riitters SRS-GTR-136 2011

Abstract: Land cover patterns inventoried from a national land cover map provide information about the landscape context and fragmentation of the Nation’s forests, grasslands, and shrublands. This inventory is required to quantify, map, and evaluate the capacities of landscapes to provide ecological goods and services sustainably. This report documents the procedures to inventory and summarize land cover composition, juxtaposition, and structure as exhibited at several measurement scales. National and regional results are summarized in tabular form, and representative statistics are illustrated in figures (for States) and maps (for counties). The baseline information in this inventory is a starting point for future analyses of landscape changes.

Scope and Scale: Regional.

Internet Address: http://www.treesearch.fs.fed.us/pubs/37766

Montana’s forest resources, 2003–2009.

Applicability: Extensive information on terrestrial ecosystems, specifically forests and vegetation information, in the state of Montana.

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Authors: Menlove, Jim; Shaw, John D.; Thompson, Michael T.; Witt, Chris; Amacher, Michael C.; Morgan, Todd A.; Sorenson, Colin; McIver, Chelsea; Werstak, Charles. RMRS-RB-15 2012

Abstract: This report presents a summary of the most recent inventory information for Montana’s forest lands. The report includes descriptive highlights and tables of area, number of trees, biomass, volume, growth, mortality, and removals. Most of the tables are organized by forest type group, species group, diameter class, or owner group. The report also describes inventory design, inventory terminology, and data reliability. Results show that Montana’s forest land totals 25.6 million acres. Sixty percent (15.4 million acres) of this forest land is administered by the USDA Forest Service. Douglas-fir forests cover 7.5 million acres or roughly 29 percent of Montana’s forested lands, making it the most abundant forest type in the State. The lodgepole pine type is the second-most common individual forest type comprising 17 percent of Montana’s forest land. Lodgepole pine is the most abundant tree species in Montana by number of trees, and Douglas-fir is the most abundant species by volume or biomass. Net annual growth of all live trees 5.0 inches diameter and greater on Montana forest land totaled 289.8 million cubic feet. Average annual mortality totaled nearly 746.3 million cubic feet.

Scope and Scale: State-wide.

Internet Address: http://www.fs.fed.us/rm/pubs/rmrs_rb015.html

Idaho’s Forest Resources, 2004–2009

Applicability: Extensive information on terrestrial ecosystems, specifically forests and vegetation information, in the state of Idaho.

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Authors: Witt, Chris; Shaw, John D.; Thompson, Michael T.; Goeking, Sara A.; Menlove, Jim; Amacher, Michael C.; Morgan, Todd A.; Werstak, Charles. RMRS-RB-14 2012

Abstract: This report presents a summary of the most recent inventory information for Idaho’s forest lands. The report includes descriptive highlights and tables of area, number of trees, biomass, volume, growth, mortality, and removals. Most of the tables are organized by forest type, species, diameter class, or owner group. The report also describes inventory design, inventory terminology, and data reliability. Results show that Idaho’s forest land totals 21.4 million acres. Nearly 76 percent (16.2 million acres) of this forest land is administered by the USDA Forest Service. Douglas-fir forests cover almost 6.3 million acres or roughly 29 percent of Idaho’s forested lands, making it the most abundant forest type in the State. The lodgepole pine type is the second-most common type comprising 11.5 percent of Idaho’s forest land. In terms of number of individual trees, subalpine fir is the single most abundant tree species in Idaho. Net annual growth of all live trees 5.0 inches diameter and greater on Idaho forest land totaled 376.2 million cubic feet. Average annual mortality totaled nearly 814.6 million cubic feet.

Scope and Scale: State-wide

Internet Address: http://www.fs.fed.us/rm/pubs/rmrs_rb014.html

Colorado’s forest resources, 2002-2006

Applicability: Extensive information on terrestrial ecosystems, specifically forests and vegetation information, in the state of Colorado.

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Authors: Thompson, Michael T.; Duda, Joseph A.; DeBlander, Larry T.; Shaw, John D.; Witt, Chris; Morgan, Todd A.; Amacher, Michael C. RMRS-RB-11 2010

Abstract: This report presents a summary of the most recent inventory information for Colorado’s forest lands. The report includes descriptive highlights and tables of area, number of trees, biomass, volume, growth, mortality, and removals. Most of the tables are organized by forest type, species, diameter class, or owner group. The report also describes inventory design, inventory terminology, and data reliability. Results show that Colorado’s forest land totals 23 million acres. Nearly 50 percent of this forest land is administered by the USDA Forest Service. Pinyon-juniper forests cover over 5.5 million acres whereas forest comprised of fir, spruce, and hemlock comprise 24 percent of Colorado’s forest land. Aspen is the single most abundant tree species in Colorado. Net annual growth of all live trees 5.0 inches diameter and greater on Colorado forest land totaled 219.6 million cubic feet. Average annual mortality totaled nearly 421.0 million cubic feet.

Scope and scale: State-wide

Internet Address: http://www.fs.fed.us/rm/pubs/rmrs_rb011.html

Utah’s forest resources, 2000–2005

Applicability: Extensive information on terrestrial ecosystems, specifically forests and vegetation information, in the state of Utah

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Authors: DeBlander, Larry T.; Shaw, John D.; Witt, Chris; Menlove, Jim; Thompson, Michael T.; Morgan, Todd A.; DeRose, R. Justin; Amacher, Michael C. RMRS-RB-10 2010

Abstract: FIA is responsible for periodic assessments of the status and trends of the renewable resources of America’s forests. Fundamental to the accomplishment of these assessments are the State-by-State resource inventories, which are now conducted on an annual basis. This report summarizes the results, interpretations, and future significance of Utah’s annual inventory. The organization and layout of this report begins with a short introduction of FIA’s annual inventory system and then a detailed description of its inventory methods. After an overview of the report tables, the bulk of the report is contained in the “Forest Resources” and “Current Issues” and “FIA Indicators” sections, and finishes with a discussion of Utah’s Timber Products. The “Forest Resources” section is outlined similar to past periodic reports for ease of comparisons. The “Current Issues” and “FIA Indicators” sections cover topics considered pertinent to Utah’s forests relative to the information FIA collects, and points to other related or more in-depth studies and research.

Scope and scale: State-wide.

Internet Address: http://www.fs.fed.us/rm/pubs/rmrs_rb010.html

Risk of impaired condition of watersheds containing National Forest lands

Applicability: A technical document supporting the RPA. This publication looks at stressors, so could also be useful in assessment area 3. It includes both a nationwide assessment as well as spreadsheets with more detailed information.

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Authors: Brown, Thomas C.; Froemke, Pamela. RMRS-GTR-251 2010

Abstract: We assessed the risk of impaired condition of the nearly 3700 5th-level watersheds in the contiguous 48 states containing the national forests and grasslands that make up the U.S. Forest Service’s National Forest System (NFS). The assessment was based on readily available, relatively consistent nationwide data sets for a series of indicators representing watershed stressors and resources at risk of watershed impairment. Using a set of weights that express the relative importance of the indicators, a summary measure of relative risk of watershed impairment was computed for each entire watershed, each NFS part of each watershed, and each non-NFS part of each watershed. The summary measure reflects the assumption that indicators are linearly related to risk of watershed impairment. The orderings based on these measures provide a first-cut at a consistent nationwide comparison of watersheds with NFS land. Users of the spreadsheets that contain the detailed results of the assessment may alter the weights according to their own understanding of the relative importance of the indicators, producing their own ratings and rankings. Among other things, we find that the non-NFS parts of the watersheds are consistently under much greater stress than the NFS parts, but that the resources at risk are more evenly spread across the NFS and non-NFS parts of the watersheds; and that risk is unevenly spread across the NFS, with most units in the two eastern regions at higher risk than nearly all units in the western regions. The results of this assessment offer a starting point for deciding about risk mitigation efforts, one that could be supplemented by locally available data on additional indicators and by a comparison of the costs and benefits of mitigation options.

Scope and Scale: National and county-wide data included.

Internet Address: http://www.fs.fed.us/rm/pubs/rmrs_gtr251.html

Cumulative watershed effects of fuel management in the western United States

Applicability: This publication looks at water resources, aquatic ecosystems, and riparian zones. It also considers cumulative watershed impacts and analyzes the effects of management actions regarding fuel and their impacts on watersheds (could also be useful in assessment area 3). It includes more of a general overview and consideration of trends rather than information on specific locations.

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Authors: Elliot, William J.; Miller, Ina Sue; Audin, Lisa. Eds. RMRS-GTR-231 2010

Abstract: Fire suppression in the last century has resulted in forests with excessive amounts of biomass, leading to more severe wildfires, covering greater areas, requiring more resources for suppression and mitigation, and causing increased onsite and offsite damage to forests and watersheds. Forest managers are now attempting to reduce this accumulated biomass by thinning, prescribed fire, and other management activities. These activities will impact watershed health, particularly as larger areas are treated and treatment activities become more widespread in space and in time. Management needs, laws, social pressures, and legal findings have underscored a need to synthesize what we know about the cumulative watershed effects of fuel management activities. To meet this need, a workshop was held in Provo, Utah, on April, 2005, with 45 scientists and watershed managers from throughout the United States. At that meeting, it was decided that two syntheses on the cumulative watershed effects of fuel management would be developed, one for the eastern United States, and one for the western United States. For the western synthesis, 14 chapters were defined covering fire and forests, machinery, erosion processes, water yield and quality, soil and riparian impacts, aquatic and landscape effects, and predictive tools and procedures. We believe these chapters provide an overview of our current understanding of the cumulative watershed effects of fuel management in the western United States.

Scope and Scale: Regional Information

Internet Address: http://www.fs.fed.us/rm/pubs/rmrs_gtr231.html

Watershed Condition Classification Technical Guide

Applicability: This document provides and explains 12 different watershed condition classification indicators, which are primarily useful at the monitoring phase. It gives guidance on how to evaluate each of the indicators and provides valuable background information on how the watershed condition framework data are developed.

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Authors: John P. Potyondy, Theodore W. Geier FS-978 2011

Abstract: The watershed condition goal of the Forest Service is “to protect National Forest System watersheds by implementing practices designed to maintain or improve watershed condition, which is the foundation for sustaining ecosystems and the production of renewable natural resources, values, and benefits” (FSM 2520). U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack reemphasized this policy in his “Vision for the Forest Service” when he stated that achieving restoration of watershed and forest health would be the primary management objective of the Forest Service (USDA 2010). This Watershed Condition Classification Technical Guide helps to implement this policy objective by—

  1. Establishing a systematic process for determining watershed condition class that all national forests can apply consistently.
  2. Improving Forest Service reporting and tracking of watershed condition.
  3. Strengthening the effectiveness of the Forest Service to maintain and restore the productivity and resilience of watersheds and their associated aquatic systems on NFS lands.

Scope and Scale: Procedural document.

Internet Address: http://www.fs.fed.us/publications/watershed/watershed_classification_guide.pdf

Watershed Condition Framework

Applicability: This document explains what the Watershed Condition Framework is, and how it classifies watershed condition. It also discusses the 12 indicators, which can be useful in monitoring, as well as restoration techniques that can be useful in the planning stage.

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FS-977 2011

Abstract: The Watershed Condition Framework (WCF) is a comprehensive approach for proactively implementing integrated restoration on priority watersheds on national forests and grasslands. The WCF proposes to improve the way the Forest Service approaches watershed restoration by targeting the implementation of integrated suites of activities in those watersheds that have been identified as priorities for restoration. The WCF also establishes a nationally consistent reconnaissance-level approach for classifying watershed condition, using a comprehensive set of 12 indicators that are surrogate variables representing the underlying ecological, hydrological, and geomorphic functions and processes that affect watershed condition. Primary emphasis is on aquatic and terrestrial processes and conditions that Forest Service management activities can influence. The approach is designed to foster integrated ecosystem-based watershed assessments; target programs of work in watersheds that have been identified for restoration; enhance communication and coordination with external agencies and partners; and improve national-scale reporting and monitoring of program accomplishments. The WCF provides the Forest Service with an outcome-based performance measure for documenting improvement to watershed condition at forest, regional, and national scales

Scope and Scale: Procedural document.

Internet Address: http://www.fs.fed.us/publications/watershed/Watershed_Condition_Framework.pdf

Watershed Condition and Prioritization Interactive Map

Applicability: Builds off of the 12 watershed condition indicators. The tool includes regional maps, an interactive online map, and GIS data. Watersheds are shown visually as functioning properly, at risk, or impaired. The interactive map can also include a layer with forest boundaries or be searched by forest name, making it planning unit-level relevant. Once a watershed is selected, the tool will give an overview of the 12 indicators in that area. Data are also useful in assessment area 1.

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Description: The results of the Forest Service Watershed Condition Framework planning work are available through a map viewer website where users can view the priority watersheds, read about why the watershed was selected, download the Watershed Restoration Action Plans and learn about other important planning items, including estimated costs and restoration partners.  Each watershed on the map also contains information on the overall watershed condition rating and the individual rating of its 12 watershed condition indicators.

Scope and Scale: Planning unit, 12-digit HUC.

Internet Address: http://www.fs.fed.us/publications/watershed/

Stream Temperature Modeling and Monitoring

Applicability: Boise lab tool that provides dynamic information regarding aquatic ecosystems and habitat suitability. Focused on stream temperatures, which can affect a range of different fish species. Also useful for assessment area 5.

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Description: Thermal regimes are important to aquatic ecosystems because they strongly dictate species distributions, productivity, and abundance. Inexpensive digital temperature loggers, geographic information systems (GIS), remote sensing technologies, and new spatial analyses are facilitating the development of temperature models and monitoring networks applicable at broad spatial scales. This web site provides a mapping tool to help those in the western US organize temperature monitoring efforts, describes techniques for measuring stream temperatures, and describes several statistical models for predicting stream temperatures and thermally suitable fish habitats from temperature data. The web site also provides links to other stream temperature resources such as publications, videos, and presentations on topics relating to thermal regimes in streams.

Scope and scale: Site-specific

Internet address: http://www.fs.fed.us/rm/boise/AWAE/projects/stream_temperature.shtml

USGS Science in your Watershed

Applicability: User-friendly watershed information clearinghouse. Allows you to click down from national to regional to local watersheds and then presents you with a menu of "additional information" for that watershed in a series of links. Includes much of the same information as the USGS watershed mapping site, but presented in a different format. The tool also includes links to relevant EPA information for the watershed once it has been selected.

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Description: The purpose of this site is to help you find scientific information organized on a watershed basis. This information, coupled with observations and measurements made by the watershed groups, provides a powerful foundation for characterizing, assessing, analyzing, and maintaining the status and health of a watershed.

Discussions with watershed groups across the country resulted in this web site. This web site provides access to:

  • Locate Your Watershed - use the mapping interface to locate your watershed and link to additional information from your watershed.
  • Information Discovery - find projects, publications, and databases related to your watershed.
  • Data Integration - learn more about how you can use scientific data to understand your watershed

Scope and Scale: 8-digit HUC

Internet Address: http://water.usgs.gov/wsc/

Fish and other aquatic resource trends in the United States: A technical document supporting the Forest Service 2010 RPA Assessment.

Applicability: This publication gives a case-study approach, a national assessment, and regional narratives. It discusses the National Fish Habitat Action Plan, with management implications, and the National Hydrography Dataset Plus. It may also be of use for assessment area 8, multiple use.

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Authors:Loftus, Andrew J.; Flather, Curtis H. RMRS-GTR-283 2012

Abstract: The Forest and Rangeland Renewable Resources Planning Act (RPA) of 1974 requires periodic assessments of the status and trends in the Nation's renewable natural resources including fish and other aquatic species and their habitats. Data from a number of sources are used to document trends in habitat quality, populations, resource use, and patterns of imperilment among aquatic fauna. Freshwater habitat quality varied widely across the United States. Nationwide, more than half of monitored lakes were ranked in good condition, but the percentage ranged from a high of 91 percent in the upper Midwest to a low of 1 percent in the Northern Plains. Habitat conditions in monitored small streams indicated that 42 percent were found to be in poor condition. The Southern Appalachians, Southern Plains, and Northern Plains have 50 percent or more of their stream lengths in poor condition. The condition of small stream habitats was best in the Western mountains. Data availability continues to limit comprehensive evaluations of freshwater fish populations. Of the 253 marine fish stocks assessed in 2009, 38 percent were deemed to be overfished or subject to overfishing. Pacific salmon have declined throughout much of their range although stocks native to Alaska have fared better than those in the Pacific Northwest. Species associated with aquatic habitats have higher proportions of species considered to be at-risk of extinction than other species groups. At-risk aquatic species are concentrated in watersheds occurring in the southern Appalachians and the southeastern coastal plain. The number of anglers has declined since the early 1990s. Relationships between land use, water quality, and aquatic species conditions are explored in a series of case studies. The report provides implications of aquatic resource trends for management and planning.

Scope and Scale: National, regional, or state.

Internet Address: http://www.treesearch.fs.fed.us/pubs/41241

Except where noted, definitions are taken from §219.19 "Definitions" of the 2012 Planning Rule.

Connectivity

Ecological conditions that exist at several spatial and temporal scales that provide landscape linkages that permit the exchange of flow, sediments, and nutrients; the daily and seasonal movements of animals within home ranges; the dispersal and genetic interchange between populations; and the long distance range shifts of species, such as in response to climate change.

Ecosystem

A spatially explicit, relatively homogeneous unit of the Earth that includes all interacting organisms and elemtns of the abiotic environment within its boundaries. An ecosystem is commonly described in terms of its composition, structure, function, and connectivity.

Ecological conditions

The biological and physical environment that can affect the diversity of plant and animal communities, the persistence of native species, and the productive capacity of ecological systems. Ecological conditions include habitat and other influences on species and the environment. Examples of ecological conditions include the abundance and distribution of aquatic and terrestrial habitats, connectivity, roads and other structural developments, human uses, and invasive species.

Ecosystem Integrity

The quality or condition of an ecosystem when its dominant ecological characteristics (for example, composition, structure, function, connectivity, and species composition and diversity) occur within the natural range of variation and can withstand and recover from most perturbations imposed by natural environmental dynamics or human influence.

Inherent capability of the plan area

The ecological capacity or ecological potential of an area characterized by the interrelationship of its physical elements, its climatic regime, and natural disturbances.

Riparian Areas

Three-dimensional ecotones of interaction that include terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems that extend down into the groundwater, up above the canopy, outward across the floodplain, up the near-slopes that drain the water, laterally into the terrestrial ecosystem, and along the water course at variable widths.

Riparian management zone

Portions of a watershed where riparian-dependent resources receive primary emphasis, and for which plans include plan components to maintain or restore riparian functions and ecological functions.

Watershed

A region or land area drained by a single stream, river, or drainage network; a drainage basin.

Natural range of variation (NRV)

Spatial and temporal variation in ecosystem characteristics under historic disturbance regimes during a reference period. The reference period considered should be sufficiently long to include the full range of variation produced by dominant natural disturbance regimes, often several centuries, for such disturbances as fire and flooding and should also include short-term variation and cycles in climate. "Natural range of variation" (NRV) is a term used synonymously with historic range of variation or range of natural variation. The NRV is a tool for assessing ecological integrity, and does not necessarily constitute a management target or desired condition. The NRV can help identify key structural, functional, compositional, and connectivity characteristics, for which plan components may be important for either maintenance or restoration of such ecological conditions (From Forest Service Handbook draft directives).

2. Air, soil, and water resources and quality

Creek with Grass

Air, soil, and water resources and quality provide the foundation for ecosystems and ecosystem services. These publications and tools include valuable information in these areas, including spatial modeling tools and publications specific to certain regions. They can be used as a starting point in planning assessment, and should be supplemented by information specific to the individual planning unit.

Resources

USDA Forest Service national protocols for sampling air pollutionsensitive waters

Applicability: While especially useful for establishing a monitoring program, this resource is an extensive book that outlines procedures for keeping stock of both air and water quality through water sampling. It includes indicators, methods, and training information.

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Authors: Sullivan, T.J., ed.

Publication Number: GTR-278

Year: 2012

Summary: The first step in designing a surface water sampling program is identifying one or more problems or questions that require information on water quality. Common water quality problems include nutrient enrichment (from a variety of causes), effects of atmospheric deposition (acidification, eutrophication, toxicity), and effects of major disturbances such as fire or pest infestations. Once the problems or questions have been clearly defined, a sampling program can be designed that addresses where to sample, what to measure, and when and how to conduct the sampling. The selection of measurements should be tailored to specific study objectives and to the study design, which guides the specifics of field, laboratory, and data analysis protocols.

Scope / Scale: Procedural document.

Internet Address: http://www.fs.fed.us/rm/pubs/rmrs_gtr278.html

U.S. Forest Service Region 1 Lake Chemistry, NADP, and IMPROVE air quality data analysis

Applicability: Very data rich air quality information for Region 1. Not applicable outside of the region except as a procedural document.

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Authors: Grenon, Jill; Story, Mark

Publication Number: GTR-230

Year: 2009

Summary: This report was developed to address the need for comprehensive analysis of U.S. Forest Service (USFS) Region 1 air quality monitoring data. The monitoring data includes Phase 3 (long-term data) lakes, National Atmospheric Deposition Program (NADP), and Interagency Monitoring of Protected Visual Environments (IMPROVE). Annual and seasonal data for the periods of record were evaluated for trends using non-parametric (SAS) protocols. The most significant trends were the consistent decrease in SO4 2– and increase in NH4 + at the NADP sites. Standard visual Range increased and extinction decreased at all the IMPROVE sites. Annual visibility was reduced during years of heavy wildland fire. In conclusion, considerations were listed regarding current and future monitoring and National Forest air quality protection including lake sampling protocols, and NADP and IMPROVE site continuation.

Scope / Scale: Region 1 specific

Internet Address: http://www.fs.fed.us/rm/pubs/rmrs_gtr230.html

Soil and Water Resources Conservation Act (RCA)

Applicability: Data produced by Natural Resource Conservation Service akin to the Resource Planning Act. It includes a large amount of information regarding soil.

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Summary: The Soil and Water Resources Conservation Act (RCA) authorizes USDA to report on the condition of natural resources, and to analyze conservation programs and opportunities. This site supports the RCA by providing data from a variety of sources, including data on the status and trends of natural resources, conservation efforts (funding and conservation practices applied), and the agricultural sector. Data reports can be viewed and downloaded using the 4 easy steps below.

Scope / Scale: Variable depending on information sought.

Internet Address: http://soils.usda.gov/survey/rca/viewer/

NRCS Web Soil Survey

Applicability: Users can narrow by state and then by National Forest. Earlier sites (i.e., the NRCS Soil Data Mart) are being phased out. You can also access archived soil surveys through this tool.

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Summary: Web Soil Survey (WSS) provides soil data and information produced by the National Cooperative Soil Survey. It is operated by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and provides access to the largest natural resource information system in the world. NRCS has soil maps and data available online for more than 95 percent of the nation's counties and anticipates having 100 percent in the near future. The site is updated and maintained online as the single authoritative source of soil survey information.

Scope / Scale: Variable depending on information sought.

Internet Address: http://soildatamart.nrcs.usda.gov/

Watershed Condition Framework

Applicability: Builds off of the 12 watershed condition indicators. The tool includes regional maps, an interactive online map, and GIS data. Watersheds are shown visually as functioning properly, at risk, or impaired. The interactive map can also include a layer with forest boundaries or be searched by forest name, making it planning unit-level relevant. Once a watershed is selected, the tool will give an overview of the 12 indicators in that area. Data are also useful in assessment area 1.

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Summary: Watershed condition classification was completed on National Forest System lands in May of 2011. During the summer and fall of 2011, priority watersheds were identified and work began on Watershed Restoration Action Plans. Watershed Restoration Action Plans are programmatic documents in which the Forest Service describes existing resource conditions and identifies possible management actions that could be taken to move the Agency towards a desired future condition. If the Forest Service determines that it wants to move forward with any of these possible actions, the proposed actions will be subject to National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requirements at the time the projects are proposed. NEPA may have already been completed or may be underway on some of the projects described in the Action Plans.

The results of the Forest Service Watershed Condition Framework planning work are available through a map viewer website where users can view the priority watersheds, read about why the watershed was selected, download the Watershed Restoration Action Plans and learn about other important planning items, including estimated costs and restoration partners. Each watershed on the map also contains information on the overall watershed condition rating and the individual rating of its 12 watershed condition indicators.

Scope / Scale: Planning unit; 12-digit HUC

Internet Address: http://www.fs.fed.us/publications/watershed/

USGS Science in your Watershed

Applicability: User-friendly watershed information clearinghouse. Allows you to click down from national to regional to local watersheds and then presents you with a menu of "additional information" for that watershed in a series of links. Includes much of the same information as the USGS watershed mapping site, but presented in a different format. The tool also includes links to relevant EPA information for the watershed once it has been selected.

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Summary: The purpose of this site is to help you find scientific information organized on a watershed basis. This information, coupled with observations and measurements made by the watershed groups, provides a powerful foundation for characterizing, assessing, analyzing, and maintaining the status and health of a watershed. Discussions with watershed groups across the country resulted in this web site. This web site provides access to: Locate Your Watershed - use the mapping interface to locate your watershed and link to additional information from your watershed. Information Discovery - find projects, publications, and databases related to your watershed. Data Integration - learn more about how you can use scientific data to understand your watershed

Scope / Scale: 8-digit HUC

Internet Address: http://water.usgs.gov/wsc/

USGS Watershed maps

Applicability: Wide range of maps and data indicating both current conditions and long-term trends for water and watersheds from USGS. This tool is especially useful for stream flow information.

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Summary: Downloadable maps and data sets including:

  • Annual Water Data Reports - Individual site data for a particular year, beginning in 2006.
  • National Water Information System (NWIS) USGS Water Data for the Nation: Water-resources data collected at approximately 1.5 million sites in all U.S. States and Territories. Primary categories are Real-time Data, Site Information, Surface Water, Groundwater and Water Quality.
  • National Hydrography Dataset - Detailed spatial data with information about surface-water features and their upstream or downstream relationships.
  • Water data discovery - Summary of water-data access tools organized by time: water now, water then, and water tomorrow.
  • Spatial data - Spatial data and metadata created for water assessment and research projects.
  • Water-use maps and data - Categories of water use in the United States in 2000, 1995, and 1990, by State, with data available by County.

Scope / Scale: Variable HUC levels.

Internet Address: http://water.usgs.gov/maps.html

Vulnerability of U.S. water supply to shortage: a technical document supporting the Forest Service 2010 RPA Assessment

Applicability: This technical document from the RPA assessment includes both information on water supply and projections for demand using the RPA scenarios. It does a variability analysis for water shortages and presents information in national spatial models.

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Authors: Foti, Romano; Ramirez, Jorge A.; Brown, Thomas C.

Publication Number: GTR-295

Year: 2012

Summary: Comparison of projected future water demand and supply across the conterminous United States indicates that, due to improving efficiency in water use, expected increases in population and economic activity do not by themselves pose a serious threat of large-scale water shortages. However, climate change can increase water demand and decrease water supply to the extent that, barring major adaptation efforts, substantial future water shortages are likely, especially in the larger Southwest. Because further global temperature increases are probably unavoidable, adaptation will be essential in the areas of greatest increase in projected probability of shortage.

Scope / Scale: National trends and data at county levels.

Internet Address: http://www.fs.fed.us/rm/pubs/rmrs_gtr295.html

STREAM Team

Applicability: USFS group which has developed a variety of publications and software tools, including BAGS, WinXSPRO, FishXing, and Aquarius. The publications include information about trends and projections, including climate impacts. The modeling tools can provide information regarding sediment, hydrology, and competing uses for water. Some information has not been updated since 2007 or 2008.

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Summary: The Stream Systems Technology Center, or "STREAM TEAM " is a national technical center chartered to improve knowledge of stream systems and watershed hydrology, develop operational tools and technology, provide training and technical support, and identify research needs for the purpose of coordinating development of needed technology to secure favorable conditions of water flows. The Stream Systems Technology Center is part of the Washington Office Watershed, Fisheries, and Wildlife Staff.

Scope / Scale: Variable depending on programs and publications

Internet Address: http://www.stream.fs.fed.us/

Except where noted, definitions are taken from §219.19 "Definitions" of the 2012 Planning Rule.

Airshed

A geographic area that, because of topography, meteorology, and, or, climate, is frequently affected by the same air mass. (From Forest Service Handbook draft directives)

Critical load

The concentration of air pollution or total deposition of pollutants above which specific deleterious effects may occur. (From Forest Service Handbook draft directives)

3. System drivers, including dominant ecological processes, disturbance regimes, and stressors, such as natural succession, wildland fire, invasive species, and climate change; and the ability of terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems on the plan area to adapt to change

Fire Fighters in Buring Forest

The ecosystems in National Forests are dynamic systems. They react to systems drivers ranging from wildland fire to climate change in different ways. These resources provide a starting point for assessing both the presence of stressors and the ways in which ecosystems adapt. The information here should be supplemented by information specific to the individual planning unit.

Resources

Wildfire, Wildlands, and People: Understanding and Preparing for Wildfire in the Wildland-Urban Interface

Applicability: This publication gives general information regarding natural fire regimes and WUI. It discusses the relationship between wildfire and other systems drivers such as climate change, insects, and disease. Included are data regarding national costs of wildfire-related programs and damages. It provides information regarding different management techniques and community outreach efforts including several useable charts, diagrams, and maps.

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Authors: Stein, S.M.; Menakis, J.; Carr, M.A.; Comas, S.J.; Stewart, S.I.; Cleveland, H.; Bramwell, L.; Radeloff, V.C.

Publication Number: GTR-299

Year: 2013

Summary: Fire has historically played a fundamental ecological role in many of America's wildland areas. However, the rising number of homes in the wildland-urban interface (WUI), associated impacts on lives and property from wildfire, and escalating costs of wildfire management have led to an urgent need for communities to become "fire-adapted." We present maps of the conterminous United States that illustrate historical natural fire regimes, the wildland-urban interface, and the number and location of structures burned since 1999. We outline a sampler of actions, programs, and community planning and development options to help decrease the risks of and damages from wildfire.

Scope / Scale: Mostly includes national data. Can be used for developing at the WUI.

Internet Address: http://www.fs.fed.us/rm/pubs/rmrs_gtr299.html

A qualitative and quantitative analysis of risk perception and treatment options as related to wildfires in the USDA FS Region 3 National Forests.

Applicability: This publication describes data from Region 3, but could be used across regions (at least in the interior west). It looks at different perspectives of wildfire treatment and how to best communicate them. It can be useful as a tool to learn how to reach out/collaborate with local stakeholders with different backgrounds regarding wildfire. Applicability could extend beyond simply system drivers assessment to inform how forests can drive a process that is simultaneously science-based and collaborative. Also discusses properly informing agency personnel in addition to members of the public regarding wildfire.

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Authors: Martin, Ingrid M.; Martin, Wade E.; Raish, Carol B.

Publication Number: GTR-260

Year: 2011

Summary: As the incidence of devastating fires rises, managing the risk posed by these fires has become critical. This report provides important information to examine the ways that different groups or disaster subcultures develop the mentalities or perceived realities that affect their views and responses concerning risk and disaster preparedness. Fire risk beliefs and attitudes of individuals and groups from four geographic areas in the Southwest (U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Region 3, Arizona and New Mexico) surrounding the Kaibab, Tonto, Santa Fe, and Lincoln National Forests are presented. Using both quantitative and qualitative methods, we collected information from three distinct groups: general public, informed lay public, and local experts. In addition, personal interviews were conducted with a group of policy experts in the science of wildfires and climate change. A primary finding indicates that all of the groups that we interviewed expressed a strong desire for land managers to manage the public lands proactively in order to reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfire. However, respondents expressed different preferences regarding the management approach that should be used. One important observation was that respondents in each of the three distinct respondent groups prioritized their preferred means of communication differently.

Scope / Scale: Forest scale. Especially useful in Region 3.

Internet Address: http://www.fs.fed.us/rm/pubs/rmrs_gtr260.html

Review of fuel treatment effectiveness in forests and rangelands and a case study from the 2007 megafires in central, Idaho, USA.

Applicability: Case study on fuel treatments in Idaho. It addresses the ability of terrestrial ecosystems to adapt to change, looks at natural succession. The study looks at effectiveness of different restoration techniques. This tool could be used to help assess how past management actions have altered the disturbance regime.

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Author: Hudak, Andrew T.; Rickert, Ian; Morgan, Penelope; Strand, Eva; Lewis, Sarah A.; Robichaud, Peter R.; Hoffman, Chad; Holden, Zachary A.

Publication Number: GTR-252

Year: 2011

Summary: This report provides managers with the current state of knowledge regarding the effectiveness of fuel treatments for mitigating severe wildfire effects. A literature review examines the effectiveness of fuel treatments that had been previously applied and were subsequently burned through by wildfire in forests and rangelands. A case study focuses on WUI fuel treatments that were burned in the 2007 East Zone and Cascade megafires in central Idaho. Both the literature review and case study results support a manager consensus that forest thinning followed by some form of slash removal is most effective for reducing subsequent wildfire severity.

Scope / Scale: Ecosystem-specific, Idaho-focused but with broader implications.

Internet Address: http://www.fs.fed.us/rm/pubs/rmrs_gtr252.html

Retrospective fire modeling: Quantifying the impacts of fire suppression.

Applicability: Provides guidance on utilizing the FARSITE program and determining median fire return intervals in an ecosystem. This tool can help assess the historical fire regimes and effects of fire suppression on the land.

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Author: Davis, Brett H.; Miller, Carol; and Parks, Sean A.

Publication Number: GTR-236

Year: 2010

Summary: Land management agencies need to understand and monitor the consequences of their fire suppression decisions. We developed a framework for retrospective fire behavior modeling and impact assessment to determine where ignitions would have spread had they not been suppressed and to assess the cumulative effects that would have resulted. This document is a general guidebook for applying this methodology and is for land managers interested in quantifying the impacts of fire suppression. Using this methodology will help land managers track the cumulative effects of suppression, frame future suppression decisions and cost-benefit analyses in the context of past experiences, and communicate tradeoffs to the public, non-government organizations, land management agencies, and other interested parties.

Scope / Scale: Landscape-scale data.

Internet Address: http://www.fs.fed.us/rm/pubs/rmrs_gtr236.html

Guidebook on LANDFIRE fuels data acquisition, critique, modification, maintenance, and model calibration.

Applicability: Companion to the LANDFIRE program, a technical document regarding how to effectively utilize the tool. This document is aimed at fire specialists, who should already be aware of this type of data. Other individuals should know this information is out there and to request it in assessing system drivers from wildfires (including doing so spatially).

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Author: Stratton, Richard D.

Publication Number: GTR-220

Year: 2009

Summary: With the advent of LANDFIRE fuels layers, an increasing number of specialists are using the data in a variety of fire modeling systems. However, a comprehensive guide on acquiring, critiquing, and editing (ACE) geospatial fuels data does not exist. This paper provides guidance on ACE as well as on assembling a geospatial fuels team, model calibration, and maintaining geospatial data and documentation.

The LANDFIRE Data Access Tool (LFDAT), an ArcMap extension, and the Wildland Fire Decision Support System (WFDSS) are the primary tools outlined in this guide to obtain the Fire Area Simulator (FARSITE) landscape file (LCP) for geospatial fuels application. Other useful geographic information system (GIS) data acquisition websites and layers for geospatial fire analysis are also provided. Critiquing the data consists of (1) a tabular critique of the inputs using LCP Critique and (2) a geospatial critique of the inputs and outputs using FlamMap and ArcMap. Detailed information is provided on many of the layers that constitute the LCP (fuel model, canopy cover, stand height, crown base height, crown bulk density).

Inputs are spatially critiqued using FlamMap and ArcMap in combination with the existing vegetation type layer. Outputs critiqued include flame length, rate of spread, fireline intensity, crown fire activity, and fire growth. Compare-Models-Four and Minimum Travel Time (MTT) are discussed, the WFDSS landscape editor is demonstrated as a tool to edit and update an LCP and a section on model calibration using FARSITE and MTT is included. The paper concludes with direction and discussion on data maintenance, documentation, and complexities of a national fuels dataset for field application.

Scope / Scale: Landscape-scale data.

Internet Address: http://www.fs.fed.us/rm/pubs/rmrs_gtr220.html

Wildland Fire Potential (WFP) Map

Applicability: Good information for long-term planning, it can be used in addition to data generate in other fire simulation models. It can be downloaded as a GIS data set.

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Year: 2012

Summary: The wildland fire potential (WFP) map is a raster geospatial product produced by the USDA Forest Service, Fire Modeling Institute that is intended to be used in analyses of wildfire risk or hazardous fuels prioritization at large landscapes (100s of square miles) up through regional or national scales. The WFP map builds upon, and integrates, estimates of burn probability (BP) and conditional probabilities of fire intensity levels (FILs) generated for the national interagency Fire Program Analysis system (FPA) using a simulation modeling system called the Large Fire Simulator (FSim; Finney et al. 2011). The specific objective of the 2012 WFP map is to depict the relative potential for wildfire that would be difficult for suppression resources to contain, based on past fire occurrence, 2008 fuels data from LANDFIRE, and 2012 estimates of wildfire likelihood and intensity from FSim. Areas with higher WFP values, therefore, represent fuels with a higher probability of experiencing high-intensity fire with torching, crowning, and other forms of extreme fire behavior under conducive weather conditions.

We don't intend for the WFP map to take the place of any of the FSim products; rather, we hope that it provides a useful addition to the information available to managers, policy makers, and scientists interested in wildland fire risk analysis in the United States.

Scope / Scale: National; large landscapes.

Internet Address: http://www.firelab.org/fmi/data-products/229-wildland-fire-potential-wfp

Rocky Mountain Research Station invasive species visionary white paper.

Applicability: This white paper gives an overview of invasive species, research, and efforts across the entire RMRS footprint. It also includes links to various resources which are more regularly updated.

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Author: Pearson, D. E.; Kim, M.; Butler, J., eds.

Publication Number: GTR-265

Year: 2011

Summary: Invasive species represent one of the single greatest threats to natural ecosystems and the services they provide. Effectively addressing the invasive species problem requires management that is based on sound research. We provide an overview of recent and ongoing invasive species research conducted by Rocky Mountain Research Station scientists in the Intermountain West in order to familiarize managers with the Station and its products. We also provide several links to continuously updated web sites and a periodic newsletter that covers Rocky Mountain Research Station's invasives species research.

Scope / Scale: Regions 1, 2, 3, and 4.

Internet Address: http://www.fs.fed.us/rm/pubs/rmrs_gtr265.html

Invasive species working group

Applicability: Similar to the visionary white paper, but more currently updated. Includes set of links to other information: http://www.fs.fed.us/rm/invasive-species/links/

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Summary: Includes publications, a newsletter, and information regarding invasive species throughout the footprint of the RMRS.

Scope / Scale: Variable depending on resource selected

Internet Address: http://www.rmrs.nau.edu/invasive_species/

National invasive species information center

Applicability: A one-stop shop for invasive species info presented in an up-to-date, user-friendly format.

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Summary: Up-to-date databases regarding invasive species. Can be browsed by type of invasive, regionally, or for general information. Also includes information regarding their economic impact (which would help for ecosystem services)

Scope / Scale: Variable depending on resource selected

Internet Address: http://www.invasivespeciesinfo.gov/resources/databases.shtml

A System for Assessing Vulnerability of Species (SAVS) to Climate Change

Applicability: This publication introduces the SAVS framework and explains how to utilize and apply it. It is also useful for assessment area 5. Case studies have been done for Fort Huachuca, AZ, (GTR-302); the Barry M. Goldwater Range, AZ, (GTR-284), and the Sky Islands of the Southwest (GTR-273).

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Author: Bagne, Karen E.; Friggens, Megan M.; and Finch, Deborah M.

Publication Number: GTR-257

Year: 2011

Summary: Sustained conservation of species requires integration of future climate change effects, but few tools exist to assist managers. The System for Assessing Vulnerability of Species (SAVS) identifies the relative vulnerability or resilience of vertebrate species to climate change. Designed for managers, the SAVS is an easily applied tool that uses a questionnaire of 22 predictive criteria to create vulnerability scores. The user scores species' attributes relating to potential vulnerability or resilience associated with projections for their region. Six scores are produced: an overall score denoting level of vulnerability or resilience, four categorical scores (habitat, physiology, phenology, and biotic interactions) indicating source of vulnerability, and an uncertainty score, which reflects user confidence in the predicted response. The SAVS provides a framework for integrating new information into the climate change assessment process. Case studies have been done for Fort Huachuca, AZ, (GTR-302); the Barry M. Goldwater Range, AZ, (GTR-284), and the Sky Islands of the Southwest (GTR-273).

Scope / Scale: species-specific

Internet Address: http://www.fs.fed.us/rm/pubs/rmrs_gtr257.html

Climate change in grasslands, shrublands, and deserts of the interior American West: a review and needs assessment.

Applicability: This excellent resource looks at climate change specifically with regards to grasslands, shrublands, and deserts. It includes ecoregion-specific information and also demonstrates the interplay between different systems drivers. It also includes useable modeling data.

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Author: Finch, Deborah M., ed.

Publication Number: GTR-285

Year: 2012

Summary: Recent research and species distribution modeling predict large changes in the distributions of species and vegetation types in the western interior of the United States in response to climate change. This volume reviews existing climate models that predict species and vegetation changes in the western United States, and it synthesizes knowledge about climate change impacts on the native fauna and flora of grasslands, shrublands and deserts of the interior American West. Species' responses will depend not only on their physiological tolerances but also on their phenology, establishment properties, biotic interactions, and capacity to evolve and migrate. The volume is divided into eight chapters that cover the topics of carbon mitigation and adaptation. Current and likely responses of species and habitats to climate change are examined in relation to taxonomic group and ecoregion and with regard to other disturbances. The volume ends with a review of management decision support needs and tools for assessing vulnerability of natural resources and conserving and restoring ecosystems that are or may be impacted by climate change.

Scope / Scale: Ecoregion-specific

Internet Address: http://www.fs.fed.us/rm/pubs/rmrs_gtr285.html

Climate change, forests, fire, water, and fish: Building resilient landscapes, streams, and managers.

Applicability: This publication links climate change to wildfire regimes and gives specific information regarding the impacts on fish populations. It is good for showing the interplay of systems drivers.

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Author: Luce, Charles; Morgan, Penny; Dwire, Kathleen; Isaak, Daniel; Holden, Zachary; Rieman, Bruce.

Publication Number: GTR-290

Year: 2012

Summary: Fire will play an important role in shaping forest and stream ecosystems as the climate changes. Historic observations show increased dryness accompanying more widespread fire and forest die-off. These events punctuate gradual changes to ecosystems and sometimes generate stepwise changes in ecosystems. Climate vulnerability assessments need to account for fire in their calculus. The biophysical template of forest and stream ecosystems determines much of their response to fire. This report describes the framework of how fire and climate change work together to affect forest and fish communities. Learning how to adapt will come from testing, probing, and pushing that framework and then proposing new ideas. The western U.S. defies generalizations, and much learning must necessarily be local in implication. This report serves as a scaffold for that learning. It comprises three primary chapters on physical processes, biological interactions, and management decisions, accompanied by a special section with separately authored papers addressing interactions of fish populations with wildfire. Any one of these documents could stand on its own. Taken together, they serve as a useful reference with varying levels of detail for land managers and resource specialists. Readers looking for an executive summary are directed to the sections titled "Introduction" and "Next Steps."

Scope / Scale: National, visioning document.

Internet Address: http://www.fs.fed.us/rm/pubs/rmrs_gtr290.html

Climate Change Resource Center tools

Applicability: The "climate impact" list from the drop down menu includes the most relevant information for the assessment.

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Summary: This page includes a collection of links to various tools designed to evaluate climate impacts.

Scope / Scale: Variable depending on resource selected

Internet Address: http://www.fs.fed.us/ccrc/tools/

The Sagebrush Steppe Treatment Evaluation Project (SageSTEP): A Test of State-and-Transition TheoryPrescribed

Applicability: This resource focuses on the Great Basin and sagebrush steppe ecosystems. It includes both information regarding fire and also natural succession.

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Author: McIver, J.D.; Brunson, M.; Bunting, S.C., and others.

Publication Number: GTR-237

Year: 2010

Summary: The Sagebrush Steppe Treatment Evaluation Project (SageSTEP) is a comprehensive, integrated, long-term study that evaluates the ecological effects of fire and fire surrogate treatments designed to reduce fuel and to restore sagebrush (Artemisia spp.) communities of the Great Basin and surrounding areas. SageSTEP has several features that make it ideal for testing hypotheses from state-and-transition theory: it is long-term, experimental, multisite, and multivariate, and treatments are applied across condition gradients, allowing for potential identification of biotic thresholds. The project will determine the conditions under which sagebrush steppe ecological communities recover on their own following fuel treatment versus the communities crossing ecological thresholds, which requires expensive active restoration.

Scope / Scale: Region 4 specific, Great Basin and sagebrush.

Internet Address: http://www.fs.fed.us/rm/pubs/rmrs_gtr237.html

Except where noted, definitions are taken from §219.19 "Definitions" of the 2012 Planning Rule.

Disturbance

Any relatively discrete event in time that disrupts ecosystem, watershed, community, or species population structure and/or function and changes resources, substrate availability, or the physical environment.

Disturbance regime

A description of the characteristic types of disturbance on a given landscape; the frequency, severity, and size distribution of these characteristic disturbance types; and their interactions.

Stressors

For the purpose of this subpart: Factors that may directly or indirectly degrate or impair ecosystem composition, structure, or ecological process in a manner that may impair its ecological integrity, such as an invasive species, loss of connectivity, or the disruption of a natural disturbance regime.

4. Baseline assessment of carbon stocks

Forest with Fall Colors

Understanding the carbon stocks in a forest can have long-term implications not only for that landscape but at larger scales. Many tools are in development to assist managers in undertaking such an assessment. Here are some current tools and resources for that purpose. The information here should be supplemented by information specific to the individual planning unit.

Climate Change Scorecard #9 resources

Applicability: Climate Change scorecard #9 should provide forests with the information they need for this part of the assessment. Utilizing the tools outlined by this site will also achieve that goal.

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Summary: Completing scorecard element #9 will allow managers to understand the implications of potential future management activities on carbon stocks and flows in the forest. While the Forest Service manages our National Forests for a wide variety of ecosystem services (including timber, fresh water, recreation, fish & wildlife, habitat, etc), knowing the carbon dynamics of our forests will allow us to know how much the National Forests are mitigating climate change by serving as carbon sinks (or, in some cases, sources).

Forest Service managers and research scientists from the Northern and Rocky Mountain Research Stations and elsewhere are collaborating on several projects which will provide land managers with the scientific knowledge and tools needed to "get to yes" on scorecard element 9. These tools represent a strategic investment on a national scale that is supported by R&D expertise, so that the burden of carbon inventories does not fall to individual forests at the unit level. Many of these tools are still under development, but will be fully deployed in the coming years.

Scope / Scale: Variable from national to forest level depending on tool utilized.

Internet Address: http://www.fs.fed.us/climatechange/advisor/scorecard/carbon-assessment-stewardship.html

COLE and GCOLE

Applicability: This tool can generate data at the county level. There's also an easy-to-use new version called GCOLE. GCOLE has the capacity to do a forest level filter, but it only works for large forests.

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Summary: COLE v2.0 retrieves Forest Inventory and Analysis data for a user-selected area (within the continental United States), converts these data to ecosystem carbon and produces basic carbon inventory and growth and yield estimates. Using this program, a user can generate an acceptable baseline assessment of carbon stocks for the purpose of partially fulfilling element requirements. COLE requires fairly minimal investment to learn and use. A more detailed and/or accurate baseline assessment of carbon stocks can also potentially be generated through a science-management partnership that use other tools or by completing an on-the-ground carbon inventory (see "What are other forests doing?"); however, these methods are usually more time- and resource-intensive.

Scope / Scale: State and county level, some forests

Internet Address: http://www.ncasi2.org/GCOLE/gcole.shtml

Carbon stocks on forestland of the United States, with emphasis on USDA Forest Service ownership. Ecosphere.

Applicability: This publication gives regional information regarding carbon stocks for the USFS. It also has a map of forest carbon stocks by National Forest, utilizing FIA data. The narrative is also useful in defining different types of carbon pools.

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Authors: Linda S. Heath, James E. Smith, Christopher W. Woodall, David L. Azuma, and Karen L. Waddell.

Year: 2011

Summary: The U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service (USFS) manages one-fifth of the area of forestland in the United States. The Forest Service Roadmap for responding to climate change identified assessing and managing carbon stocks and change as a major element of its plan. This study presents methods and results of estimating current forest carbon stocks and change in the United States for public and private owners, consistent with the official 2010 U.S. greenhouse gas inventory, but with improved data sources for three states. Results are presented by National Forest System region, a major organizational management unit within the Forest Service, and by individual national forest. USFS forestland in the United States is estimated to contain an average of 192 Mg C/ha (megagrams carbon per hectare) on 60.4 million ha, for a total of 11,604 Tg C (teragrams C) in the year 2005. Privately-owned forestland averages 150 Mg C/ha on 173.8 million ha, with forestland of other public owners averaging 169 Mg C/ha on 43.1 million ha. In terms of change, private and USFS ownerships each sequester about a net 150 Tg CO2/yr, but an additional 92 Tg CO2/yr is stored in products from private harvests compared to about 3 Tg CO2/yr from harvest on USFS land. Emissions from other disturbances such as fires, as well as corresponding area estimates of disturbance are also important, but the needed datasets are not yet available. Recommendations are given for improving the estimates.

Scope / Scale: National, regional, and forest level.

Internet Address: http://www.treesearch.fs.fed.us/pubs/37285

Climate Change Resource Center tools

Applicability: Before using any of these tools, individuals should read the carbon estimations primer located at http://www.fs.fed.us/ccrc/tools/carbon-primer/

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Summary: This web resource page includes a list of carbon estimation tools with one-sentence describers.

Scope / Scale: Variable depending on tool used.

Internet Address: http://www.fs.fed.us/ccrc/tools/

Except where noted, definitions are taken from §219.19 "Definitions" of the 2012 Planning Rule.

Carbon pool

Any natural region or zone, or any artificial holding area, containing an accumulation of carbon or carbon-bearing compounds or having the potential to accumulate such substances. Carbon pools may include live and dead above ground carbon, soil carbon including coarse roots, and harvested wood products. (From Forest Service Handbook draft directives)

Carbon stocks

The amount or quantity contained in the inventory of a carbon pool. For purposes of carbon assessment for National Forest System (NFS) land management planning, carbon pools do not include carbon in fossil fuel resources, lakes or rivers, emissions from agency operations, or public use of NFS lands (such as emissions from vehicles and facilities). (From Forest Service Handbook draft directives)

5. Threatened, endangered, proposed and candidate species, and potential species of conservation concern present in the plan area

Wolverine in the snow

National Forest System lands provide valuable habitat for a wide-range of species. These publications and tools provide information regarding individual species and their habitats. The information here should be supplemented by information specific to the individual planning unit.

A System for Assessing Vulnerability of Species (SAVS) to Climate Change

Applicability: This publication introduces the SAVS framework and explains how to utilize and apply it. It is also useful for assessment area 3. Case studies have been done for Fort Huachuca, AZ, (GTR-302); the Barry M. Goldwater Range, AZ, (GTR-284), and the Sky Islands of the Southwest (GTR-273).

Read More...

Author: Bagne, Karen E.; Friggens, Megan M.; and Finch, Deborah M.

Publication Number: GTR-257

Year: 2011

Summary: Sustained conservation of species requires integration of future climate change effects, but few tools exist to assist managers. The System for Assessing Vulnerability of Species (SAVS) identifies the relative vulnerability or resilience of vertebrate species to climate change. Designed for managers, the SAVS is an easily applied tool that uses a questionnaire of 22 predictive criteria to create vulnerability scores. The user scores species' attributes relating to potential vulnerability or resilience associated with projections for their region. Six scores are produced: an overall score denoting level of vulnerability or resilience, four categorical scores (habitat, physiology, phenology, and biotic interactions) indicating source of vulnerability, and an uncertainty score, which reflects user confidence in the predicted response. The SAVS provides a framework for integrating new information into the climate change assessment process.

Scope / Scale: species-specific

Internet Address: http://www.fs.fed.us/rm/pubs/rmrs_gtr257.html

SAVS: A System for Assessing Vulnerability of Species

Applicability: Plugging species-specific data into this tool can help planners determine which species should be considered as potential species of conservation concern due to climate change. The case studies from Arizona can help explain how to utilize the tool.

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Summary: RMRS has developed a System for Assessing Vulnerability of Species (SAVS) (view the research project) that quantifies the relative impact of expected climate change effects for terrestrial vertebrate species. The SAVS uses 22 criteria related to expected response or vulnerability of species in a questionnaire to provide a framework for assessing vulnerability to climate change. The questionnaire is completed using information gathered from published materials, personal knowledge, or expert consultation. The SAVS Climate Change Tool focuses solely on the effects of climate change for terrestrial vertebrate species. This tool aids managers by identifying specific traits and issues related to individual species vulnerabilities. Scores generated by completing a questionnaire are meant to be used to inform management planning. A comprehensive discussion of the development and application of this tool will be available from the RMRS General Technical Report [A System for Assessing Vulnerability of Species (SAVS) to Climate Change, in press]. Information regarding specific criteria for each question are provided as information pop-ups with the scoring template. Users may also find it helpful to review assessments conducted for species in New Mexico and Arizona and legacy project briefs for Fort Huachuca, AZ and Barry M Goldwater Range, AZ. We assume users will familiarize themselves with these documents before proceeding with the scoring process.

Scope / Scale: species-specific

Internet Address: http://www.fs.fed.us/rm/grassland-shrubland-desert/products/species-vulnerability/

A Range-Wide Restoration Strategy for Whitebark Pine (Pinus albicaulis)

Applicability: This paper discusses the various threats to whitebark pine and considers their potential decline over the next 50 years. It draws connections between whitebark pine and grizzly bears. It could also be useful in the terrestrial ecosystem assessment section and at the planning stage.

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Author: Keane, Robert E.; Tomback, D.F.; Aubry, C.A.; Bower, A.D.; Campbell, E.M.; Cripps, C.L.; Jenkins, M.B.; Mahalovich, M.F.; Manning, M.; McKinney, S.T.; Murray, M.P.; Perkins, D.L.; Reinhart, D.P.; Ryan, C.; Schoettle, A.W.; Smith, C.M.

Publication Number: GTR-279

Year: 2012

Summary: Whitebark pine (Pinus albicaulis), an important component of western high-elevation forests, has been declining in both the United States and Canada since the early Twentieth Century from the combined effects of mountain pine beetle (Dendroctonus ponderosae) outbreaks, fire exclusion policies, and the spread of the exotic disease white pine blister rust (caused by the pathogen Cronartium ribicola). The pine is now a candidate species for listing under the Endangered Species Act. Within the last decade, with major surges of pine beetle and increasing damage and mortality from blister rust, the cumulative whitebark pine losses have altered high-elevation community composition and ecosystem processes in many regions. Whitebark pine is a keystone species because of its various roles in supporting community diversity and a foundation species for its roles in promoting community development and stability. Since more than 90 percent of whitebark pine forests occur on public lands in the United States and Canada, maintaining whitebark pine communities requires a coordinated and trans - boundary effort across Federal and provincial land management agencies to develop a comprehensive strategy for restoration of this declining ecosystem. We outline a range - wide strategy for maintaining whitebark pine populations in high mountain areas based on the most current knowledge of the efficacy of techniques and differences in their application across communities. The strategy is written as a general guide for planning, designing, implementing, and evaluating fine - scale restoration activities for whitebark pine by public land management agencies, and to encourage agency and inter - agency coordination for greater efficiency. The strategy is organized into six scales of implementation, and each scale is described by assessment factors, restoration techniques, management concerns, and examples.

Scope / Scale: Regional, ecosystem - specific with examples from the Northern Rockies

Internet Address: http://www.fs.fed.us/rm/pubs/rmrs_gtr279.html

Status and Ecology of Mexican Spotted Owls in the Upper Gila Mountains Recovery Unit, Arizona and New Mexico

Applicability: The information in this report is specific to the species and area, but provides excellent information regarding the Mexican Spotted Owl. It is especially useful for National Forests in Arizona.

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Author: Ganey, Joseph L.; Ward, James P. Jr.; Willey, David W.

Publication Number: GTR-256

Year: 2011

Summary: This report summarizes current knowledge on the status and ecology of the Mexican spotted owl within the Upper Gila Mountains Recovery Unit (UGM RU). It was written at the request of U.S. Forest Service personnel involved in the Four Forests Restoration Initiative (4FRI), a collaborative, landscape - scale restoration effort covering approximately 2.4 million ac (1 million ha) across all or part of four National Forests (Apache - Sitgreaves, Coconino, Kaibab, and Tonto National Forests) located within the UGM RU. The UGM RU supports greater than 50% of the known population of Mexican spotted owls, and the central location of the UGM RU within the overall range of the owl appears to facilitate gene flow throughout that range. Consequently, the UGM population is viewed as important to stability within the overall range of the owl, and management that impacts owls within the UGM RU could affect owl populations beyond that RU.

Scope / Scale: AZ and Mexican spotted owl specific

Internet Address: http://www.fs.fed.us/rm/pubs/rmrs_gtr256.html

Wildlife population and harvest trends in the United States: A technical document supporting the Forest Service 2010 RPA Assessment

Applicability: Gives both national and regional status and trends for wildlife by category. Uses the phrase "species of conservation concern," but not with the policy meaning it carries in the context of the planning rule. Includes consideration of at - risk species based on NatureServe rankings. With its focus on game species categories, it could also be useful for assessment areas 8 and 9. Also includes information on pollinators, which could be useful for assessment area 7 (ecosystem services).

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Author: Flather, Curtis H.; Knowles, Michael S.; Jones, Martin F.; Schilli, Carol

Publication Number: GTR-296

Year: 2013

Summary: The Forest and Rangeland Renewable Resources Planning Act (RPA) of 1974 requires periodic assessments of the condition and trends of the nation's renewable natural resources. Data from many sources were used to document recent historical trends in big game, small game, migratory game birds, furbearers, nongame, and imperiled species. Big game and waterfowl have generally increased in population and harvest trends. Many small upland and webless migratory game bird species have declined notably in population or harvest. Considerable declines in fur harvest since the 2000 RPA Assessment have occurred. Among the 426 breeding bird species with sufficient data to estimate nationwide trends, 45 percent had stable abundance since the mid - 1960s; however, more species declined (31 percent) than increased (24 percent). A total of 1,368 bird species were formally listed as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act a net gain of 278 species since the 2000 RPA Assessment. Most forest bird communities are expected to support a lower variety of species. America's wildlife resources will continue to be pressured by diverse demands for ecosystem services from humans. Collaborative planning and management among private and public land owners, and which spans the research and management branches of the Forest Service, will be vital to conserving and sustaining the nation's wildlife resources.

Scope / Scale: National and regional information.

Internet Address: http://www.fs.fed.us/rm/pubs/rmrs_gtr296.html

Rocky Mountain Research Station Focal Species

Applicability: The Rocky Mountain Research Station has developed expertise in each of these species. The high quality information regarding these species should be invaluable in the assessment phase.

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Summary: Information on Forest Carnivores, Canada Lynx, Wolverine, Northern Goshawk, Black - backed woodpecker, Mexican spotted owl, Bald eagle

Scope / Scale: Species-specific

Internet Address: http://www.rmrs.nau.edu/wildlife/species_at_risk/focal_species.php

Regional Sensitive Species Lists

Applicability: These lists could be useful in determining potential species of conservation concern in the assessment phase.

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Summary: Each region has developed a list of regionally designated species including breakdowns by state and classification.

Scope / Scale: Region-specific resources

Internet Address: http://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/r1/plants-animals/?cid=stelprdb5130525 | http://www.fs.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsinternet/detail/r2/plants-animals/?cid=stelprdb5350842 | http://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/r3/plants-animals/?cid=FSBDEV3_022105 | http://www.fs.usda.gov/main/r4/plants-animals

Forest Inventory Assessment

Applicability: Using data from FIA can assist planners in determining available habitat in a planning unit.

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Summary: Determining which species and ecosystems are thriving and which are rare or declining is crucial for targeting conservation towards elements of biodiversity in greatest need.

Scope / Scale: Variable depending on the report generated.

Internet Address: http://www.fia.fs.fed.us/tools-data/default.asp

NatureServe Rankings

Applicability: This non-profit database includes information on species and their status. The information can be given at a global scale down to a local scale for certain species.

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Summary: Determining which species and ecosystems are thriving and which are rare or declining is crucial for targeting conservation towards elements of biodiversity in greatest need. NatureServe and its member programs and collaborators use a suite of factors to assess the conservation status of plant, animal, and fungal species, as well as ecosystems (ecological communities and systems). The outcome of researching and recording information on the conservation status factors is the assignment of a conservation status rank with supporting documentation. For species these ranks provide an estimate of extinction risk, while ecosystems they provide an estimate of the risk of elimination.

Scope / Scale: Global to local populations, species-specific.

Internet Address: http://www.natureserve.org/explorer/ranking.htm

Arc Habitat Suitability Index (ArcHSI)

Applicability: GIS tool to use site-specific information in assessing habitat conditions for different species.

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Summary: Arc Habitat Suitability Index (ArcHSI) is a geographical information system (GIS) model that estimates the ability of an area to meet the food and cover requirements of an animal species. The components and parameters of the model occur in tables and can be easily edited or otherwise modified. ArcHSI runs on personal computers with the full installation of ArcGIS (Version 8.2+). ArcHSI is a tool intended to inform planners of the probable impacts on wildlife for the alternatives they develop, and it augments, rather than supplants, the expertise of resource specialists with site-specific knowledge. System requirements are platform specific, but a typical system requires 512 megabytes RAM and a 1 gHz CPU. A Unix ArcINFO version is also available. We have included a demonstration that provides a step-by-step tour of the software, including setting up the first run; interpreting, formatting, and analyzing output; and identifying and solving the most common problems experienced by new users.

Scope / Scale: Site-specific

Internet Address: http://www.fs.fed.us/rm/forest-grassland-lab/products/arc-habitat-suitability/

Stream Temperature Modeling and Monitoring

Applicability: Boise lab tool that provides dynamic information regarding aquatic ecosystems and habitat suitability. Focused on stream temperatures, which can affect a range of different fish species. Also useful for assessment area 1.

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Summary: Thermal regimes are important to aquatic ecosystems because they strongly dictate species distributions, productivity, and abundance. Inexpensive digital temperature loggers, geographic information systems (GIS), remote sensing technologies, and new spatial analyses are facilitating the development of temperature models and monitoring networks applicable at broad spatial scales. This web site provides a mapping tool to help those in the western US organize temperature monitoring efforts, describes techniques for measuring stream temperatures, and describes several statistical models for predicting stream temperatures and thermally suitable fish habitats from temperature data. The web site also provides links to other stream temperature resources such as publications, videos, and presentations on topics relating to thermal regimes in streams.

Scope / Scale: Site-specific

Internet Address: http://www.fs.fed.us/rm/boise/AWAE/projects/stream_temperature.shtml

Except where noted, definitions are taken from §219.19 "Definitions" of the 2012 Planning Rule.

Focal Species

A small subset of species whose status permits inference to the integrity of the larger ecological system to which it belongs and provides meaningful information regarding the effectiveness of the plan in maintaining or restoring the ecological conditions to maintain the diversity of plant and animal communities in the plan area. Focal species would be commonly selected on the basis of their functional role in ecosystems.

Native Species

An organism that was historically or is present in a particular ecosystem as a result of natural migratory or evolutionary processes; and not as a result of an accidental or deliberate introduction into that ecosystem. An organism's presence and evolution (adaptation) in an area are determined by climate, soil, and other biotic and abiotic factors.

Plant and animal community

A naturally occurring assemblage of plant and animal species living within a defined area or habitat.

Recovery

For the purposes of this subpart, and with respect to threatened or endangered species: The improvement in the status of a listed species to the point at which listing as federally endangered or threatened is no longer appropriate.

Viable population

A population of a species that continues to persist over the long term with sufficient distribution to be resilient and adaptable to stressors and likely future environments.

Species of conservation concern (§219.9(c))

For purposes of this subpart, a species of conservation concern is a species, other than federally recognized threatened, endangered, proposed, or candidate species, that is known to occur in the plan area and for which the regional forester has determined that the best available scientific information indicates substantial concern about the species' capability to persist over the long-term in the plan area.